People’s Voice (PV) Party chief Lim Tean on Tue (24 Mar) questioned the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP)’s resolve to potentially call for the next general election (GE) during the COVID-19 outbreak, particularly at a time when governments in several countries globally have ordered lockdowns.
“Our neighbours Malaysia and Thailand have shut down. Australia has closed itself off to the World for at least 6 months. New Zealand is shutting down for the next month.
“Further afield, Britain has just declared a lockdown of 3 weeks with no gathering of more than 2 people allowed. Germany has also mandated that no more than 2 people can gather,” said Mr Lim in a Facebook post today, noting that even the Tokyo Olympics “have been delayed by a year” in the midst of the outbreak.
“You will be forgiven for thinking that in Singapore, we are living on a different planet with Lawrence Wong saying that the GE is very likely to be held even as we battle Covid-19.
“Surreal! Are the PAP writing a fantasy story? A story in which 2.6 million Singaporeans are immune to the virus during the campaign period and on polling day?” Mr Lim questioned.
Mr Lim’s commentary was made alongside an article posted by an Islamic blog on Saudi Arabia’s closure of two Holy Mosques, namely the Masjid al-Haram and Masjid an-Nabawi in Mecca and Medina respectively.
Hani bin Hosni Haider, a spokesman for the General Presidency of Mecca’s Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, told SPA News Agency: “The Presidency and the security and health authorities decided to suspend the presence and prayers in the outer squares of the Grand Mosque [Masjid al-Haram] and the Prophet’s Mosque [Masjid al-Nabawi]”.
Aljazeera reported on 20 Mar that the Kingdom has also suspended congregational prayers in other mosques across the country.
On top of closing its mosques, Saudi Arabia has also halted international flights, as well as the year-round pilgrimage — or Umrah — to Mecca.
Schools, malls and restaurants have also been shut down, and people are also subjected to a curfew.
Arab News quoted Saudi’s Interior Ministry as saying that those who flout the curfew for the first time would be fined 10,000 riyals (S$3,872.20). Those who violate the curfew for the second time will be fined twice the said amount.
A third time will result in a jail term of a maximum of 20 days.
The United Kingdom is the latest country to have joined in the footsteps of several other countries in ramping up its COVID-19 preventative measures as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a lockdown last night.
Mr Johnson began his televised address with a simple instruction: “I must give the British people a very simple instruction. You must stay at home.”
Exceptions, however, apply to the following activities:
- Shopping for basic necessities such as food and medicine. Such trips should be made “as infrequently as possible”;
- Engaging in “one form of exercise a day” such as running, walking or cycling — alone or only with people living in the same household;
- Obtaining urgent medical assistance, or providing care for or help to a vulnerable person, including moving children under the age of 18 between their parents’ homes, where applicable;
- Key workers or those with vulnerable children sending their children to school; and
- Commuting between work and home where working at home is not possible.
All shops that sell non-essentials including clothing and electronic stores, and other premises like playgrounds, libraries, outdoor gyms and places of worship will be closed.
All social events including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies will not be allowed, except for funerals. Parks will remain open for exercise.
Mr Johnson warned that those who defy the “stay-at-home” order will be subject to police action such as fines and dispersing gatherings.
These measures are also necessary to keep the UK’s health care system, the National Health Service (NHS), from collapsing under pressure, the PM added.
“Without a huge national effort to halt the growth of this virus, there will come a moment when no health service in the world could possibly cope; because there won’t be enough ventilators, enough intensive care beds, enough doctors and nurses,” he said.